Tax Administration:

Multiple Collection Notices Sent to Individual Taxpayers

GGD-00-55: Published: Apr 14, 2000. Publicly Released: Apr 14, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) multiple collection notices, focusing on: (1) how many individual taxpayers were sent multiple notices to collect the same tax assessment, particularly after IRS received full payment of the assessment; and (2) IRS' reasons for sending collection notices after receiving full payment.

GAO noted that: (1) of the 14.8 million individual taxpayers who were sent Individual Masterfile collection notices from January 1999 through November 1999, about 5.8 million (39 percent) were sent multiple collection notices for the same assessment; (2) IRS sent multiple notices to about 5.5 million (95 percent) of these taxpayers because, according to IRS records, it had not received payment of the tax assessments in full; (3) according to IRS' records, the remainder of these taxpayers, about 270,000 (5 percent), were sent at least one notice after IRS had received full payment of the assessments; (4) IRS provided three basic reasons to explain why it sent notices after full payments to the estimated 270,000 taxpayers; (5) some taxpayers paid too late to stop a subsequent notice; (6) others paid on time, but IRS did not record the payments soon enough to stop a subsequent notice; (7) in addition, for some taxpayers, an error by IRS or the taxpayer, such as recording a payment in the wrong account or using the wrong Social Security Number, led to IRS' sending a notice after full payment; and (8) IRS has not identified the root causes for all of these errors.

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